Several years ago Don Henley had a song called "The Heart Of The Matter". Part of the lyrics went like this:
"Ive been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter...
...But I think its about forgiveness
Mr. Henley had come to the point in his life where he knew that the heart is what really matters in relationships. He talks about forgiveness, no matter what, which of course is true forgiveness. Anyone can say "I forgive you", but to really mean it, you have to get down to the heart of the matter, and say, and mean, "I forgive you, no matter what."
I thought of this while reading todays scripture: Matthew, chapters 5 thru 7.
In this portion of scripture, commonly refered to as the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus addresses some well known laws of his day, but takes them further than just outward obedience. He gets down to the heart of the matter.
He says in verses 21-22 of chapter 5, that being angry with someone is equal to murder in your heart. Ouch!
In verses 27 thru 28 (in chapter 5) He tells us that if you lust after someone, you have committed adultery in your heart! Every guy I know (and every woman too....I think) is guilty of that one!
In verses 29 thru 30 of the same chapter He instructs us that sin is serious business and we need to take drastic measures to deal with it.
He continues to cut through the layers of outward appearances and plastic religon again and again. He addresses divorce, swearing oaths, revenge, how to treat your enemies, the needy, prayer, fasting, stress & worry, and judging others....and with each one he tears away layer after layer of the piety and falseness that the teachers of the law and religion of His day had built up.
Today we are not any different. We look at people and judge them by their outward appearances. We compare ourselves to people that we feel are "badder" than us, so that we can feel good about ourselves. But the problem is that if we look past the nice clothes and perfect skin, hair & teeth, we will find that our hearts are cold, hard and black. When we stop comparing ourselves to those around us and compare ourselves to God, we come up short every way, every time.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?"
Taking a good look at our heart requires careful examination. Our heart wants to trick us, and it will lie to us. When we do get an honest look, we know exactly who and what we are, and we don't like it. So we go back to playing church. We go back to living the plastic Jesus life. And all along the heart continues to decieve us.
What can we do?
Ephesians 2:8-9 (King James Version)
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We have to realize that we are saved (born-again) by the grace of God when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and I know that as evangelical christians, we KNOW this in our HEADS, but we don't always live it in our lives. It's not about how good I can be, but about how good (perfect) HE is! Too often as believers we will acknowledge that we are saved by grace, and then we try and live the christian life by works! Whatever good we do for Jesus in this life, we can only do by the grace of God.
It's time for God's people to take a good look at their hearts.
To see what is really there.
To see who is really there.
Is Jesus on the throne of your heart, or have you pulled a "fast-one" and pushed Him off the throne, and set yourself up in His rightful place?
I know that I have to constantly check my heart, my motives, my life. It doesn't take much for my heart to shift gears and decieve me, and the next thing you know, I've got thoughts I wish I didn't have, feelings that betray me, and motivation that is less than honorable.
The heart of the matter.
Thank you for the great lyric Mr. Henley.
I think it's time to go take a look at my heart again.
Ok, so there's that.